Author Archives: Shirish Agarwal

About Shirish Agarwal

Shirish Agarwal is the founder of Flow20 and looks after the PPC and SEO side of things. Shirish also regularly contributes to leading digital marketing publications such as Hubspot, SEMRush, Wordstream and Outbrain. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

January 4, 2018

Google AdWords and Google Analytics audit results from a real campaign

There’s no shortage of good resources on theory and practical advice on auditing a Google AdWords campaign. However, I couldn’t quite find one which contained real-world suggestions based on an actual AdWords campaign which is what this blog post is all about.

The audit here is pretty much what I sent to client but removed any references to the company name and/or URL. The company offer a range of voice and data products for B2B – telephone systems, high speed data access, call recording solutions and so on.

This audit also includes some suggestions and areas of improvement of landing pages data taken from Google Analytics.

The time period is Jul 20, 2017 – Oct 20, 2017.

PS. I audited the account over 2 days and different computers hence the mashup of old and new interface screenshots.

View: Settings >> Device

Comments: The campaign is delivering the lowest Cost Per Conversions for desktop visitors with mobile being the worst performing device. Both, computers and mobiles have had an almost equal share of ad spend, however, there have been 3 x more conversions from computers.

The cost of acquiring a desktop lead has been £145 but £439 for a lead from mobile which makes the former far more cost-effective as a lead source.

Suggestions:

  • Decrease the bid adj for mobiles by about 30%
  • Increase the bid adj. for computers by about 50%
  • Analyse the following KPIs for mobile users via Google Analytics
    – Bounce Rate
    – Time on site (compared to other devices)
    – Visitor-to-lead conversion rate of organic traffic to get a broader data set to compare with

View: Settings >> Location

The default location targeting settings is currently not the most effective way to target the most qualified visitors. The default recommendations Google makes is seldom in the best interest of advertisers and is geared towards increasing clicks regardless of quality.

By targeting people ‘who show interest in my targeted location’ and excluding people ‘who show interest in my excluded location’ the campaign can be serving ads to anyone who searches for the keywords within the campaign even if they’re from a different country.

Suggestions:

  • Change targeting option to ‘people in my targeted location’
  • Change exclude option to ‘people in my excluded location’

View: Settings >> IP exclusions

It’s a good idea to exclude all IP addresses that have access to the AdWords account to limit unnecessary impressions racking up thus reducing your CTRs. Optional but recommended. You can always use the ad diagnostic tool to check where your ad is showing up and how.

View: Settings >> Locations

Greater London has accounted for approx. 65% of your total ad spend but only delivered 50% of the conversions. More importantly, the cost/conv. from Greater London has been 1.5x higher than those from Essex, Sussex and other areas clearly suggesting the traffic quality from this location isn’t nearly as high as from others.

Suggestions:

  • Reduce bid adj. for Greater London by 30%
  • Increase bid adj. for Hampshire by 40%
  • Increase bid adj. for other areas by 10% each

View: Segment >> Hour of day

The campaign is set to run between 6am – 7pm and the lowest CPAs are coming in at around 11am, 9am and 3pm in that order.

The most expensive conversions are taking place between 2pm – 4pm.

Between the hours of 4pm – 7pm, absolutely no conversions have occurred even though it has taken up about 20% of the ad spend

Suggestions:

  • Increase bid adj. by 30% for 9am – 12pm
  • Reduce bid adj. by 30% from 4pm – 7pm
  • Reduce bid adj. by 50% from 4pm – 7pm

View: Segment >> Day of the week

The campaign is set to run Monday – Friday and the lowest CPAs are coming in on Monday and Tuesday.

The most expensive conversions are taking place on Thursday and Fridays.

The CPA for Monday is £123 compared to £339 for Thursday which is a difference of over 150%.

Suggestions:

  • Increase bid adj. by 30% for Monday
  • Decrease bid adj. by 25% for Thursday

View: Keywords

Out of a total of 23 keywords, only 2 of them have delivered 100% of the conversions and the cost/conv from the 2 varies significantly (£14.75 vs £279.06!).

Moreover, a lot of the other campaign keywords have incurred costs but not delivered any conversions.

Suggestions:

  • Review the current cost/conv and decide on what is feasible
  • Consider creating more ad groups and keywords to find new opportunities

View: Ad groups >> All

From the 5 ad groups, only Call Recording Solutions / Generic has delivered 100% of the conversions even though it accounts for 65% of the ad spend.

It’s a good idea to regularly look at how the various ad groups are performing and not just the ads themselves as low performing ad groups still consume the budget for that campaign which could otherwise be spent on higher earners.

Low performing ad groups can also drag the Ad rank of the campaign down which over time can result in higher CPCs.

Suggestions:

  • Create separate ad groups for campaigns that haven’t delivered any conversions to date
  • Analyse each of the non performing ad groups to analyse possible reasons for the low ROI and make changes before launching a new campaign (simply copying over the ad groups onto new campaigns will still deliver the same results)

View: Ads >> All

You have already paused non or low performing ads on both, the campaign level as well as Ad groups level which is good.

View: Shared library >> Audiences

The campaign isn’t currently storing any visitors for remarketing as the tags don’t seem to be active. The visitor data would suggest that the tag, either the remarketing tag or via Google Analytics was in fact active but due to possible changes on the website, the code has been removed.

Remarketing can be very effective esp. when creating highly targeted campaigns. For example, you might have one remarketing list for users who visited a ‘money page’ such as the download brochure or the price list. Or, you could create a remarketing list which comprises of people who’ve gotten a quote and then show them a special offer via display ads to encourage them to take up the offer

Suggestions:

  • Fix remarketing tag on website

Landing Pages

The landing pages currently in use don’t have a form immediately visible the image in use isn’t closely related to the product/service being offered (not sure why there’s a picture of a car when the product being offered is a business telephone system).

Here are some tips and best-practices on how to improve your visitor-to-lead conversion rates and reduce your current Cost Per Acquisition of leads and sales.

Suggestions:

  • Include the contact form above-the-fold (taking into account the most common screen resolutions to determine what the above-the-fold dimensions would be)
  • Include a relevant image within the banner
  • Create different landing pages including only one piece of contact info and evaluate conversions

As a sidenote, you may expect that having as many contact options as possible on landing pages like you have (phone number, live chat, callback form etc) would improve conversions this isn’t always the case as sometimes this can overwhelm users. You may wish to experiment with landing pages by reducing the Call to actions to just 1 or 2 and comparing the impact on conversion rates.

Visitor Behaviour

The website gets almost an equal amount of share from mobile vs desktop visitors however the amount of time desktop users spend is 5 times that of mobile visitors. This would usually suggest that the website isn’t very mobile friendly or there are cross-device compatibility issues.
Similarly, as the chart above shows, the average Bounce Rate of visitors is close to 90% which is very, very high. However, the site itself seems fairly easy to use and I suspect there is a problem with the GA code somewhere as opposed to 90% of users bouncing off the site without having interacted with it.

Suggestions:

  • Check website on a few different mobile devices to uncover any mobile-specific issues

Traffic Acquisition Report

Looking at your traffic acquisition report, Organic search (SEO) seems to actually deliver the 3rd highest quality of traffic as well as sending through almost 35% of your new visitors.
Compared to paid traffic, visitors from SEO are spending twice as much time on site and are significantly more engaged!

Most of the organic traffic is coming into non ‘money pages’ such as blog posts. Possible reasons for this is a weak keyword selection on the landing pages and/or low SEO positions. Ideally, you want at least 60-70% of the incoming traffic coming to your home page and the landing pages as that is the audience set that is likely to convert into leads

Suggestions:

  • Identify the most lucrative pages and services and run a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign to improve your organic rankings
  • Revisit the keywords being optimised for the landing pages and make tweaks where necessary

I hope you find this useful. If you’re looking for resources containing general tips and theory on auditing a PPC AdWords account, here are some that I have found to be helpful:

For help with your digital marketing, whether that’s Google Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn or Social Media campaigns, get in touch with us today. Or, view all our services here.

Flow20 now also offers Facebook advertising courses and Instagram training course.

SEMRush competitor December 4, 2017

Thinking like an entrepreneur when running AdWords campaigns in hyper competitive industries

With the arrival of tools such as AdWords Express and Dynamic Ads and ever-increasing prominence of local results (i.e. Google My Business) moving the spotlight away from the organic results, the AdWords platform has become more competitive than ever.

Cost Per Click (CPC) rates, too, have been on an upward trajectory, helped partly by the removal of paid ads to the right (as if, they weren’t high enough to begin with).

So, what’s an entrepreneur to do? Ask the competition for help, of course.

Ok, not literally but what I’m talking about here is to start thinking in the same way you would when making a business decision such as how/where to allocate resources, the competition, getting smart and so on.

By looking at the whole picture and beyond data only derived by your typical keyword tools, you can give your campaign the best chance of success and gaining a share in an already crowded marketplace.

Having managed several PPC campaigns over the years for hyper competitive industries such as web design, personal injury, real estate and insurance, I have put this guide together with everything that has helped our own in-house and client campaigns deliver a positive ROI and hope it will do the same for you.

#1 Consult your internal strategic data to decide what to advertise

Whether you’re selling a product or service, most businesses will have a range of options on offer and the worst thing you can do is launch your ad campaign(s) trying to sell all of them right off the bat.

Chances are, your CPC is going to be high as it is and, because it can take some time before your ad will start racking up impressions and then clicks, having lots of small campaigns or ad groups, each focusing on a different product/service will at best, mean an awfully long time before you get any conversions and at worst, few impressions over a long period of time. Yes, impressions…no clicks, no conversions, only impressions.

Instead, put your strategic hat on and come up with a list of a key products/services that you decide you’re going to focus only on at first. To help you find what these might be, it helps to think about your various offerings in terms of:

  • Those where you have the highest profit margins
  • Products/services you offer that not many of your competitors do
  • An area where you might have already built up a niche and therefore, likely to yield higher conversion rates (e.g. if you’re an accountancy firm but with a long list of clients in the tech sector)
  • New areas you wish to tap into (e.g. you want to increase sales of one of your services currently not a significant revenue driver)

You might be able to come up with more factors to consider but the point is to ultimately come up with a list of only a few products/services to focus on.

#2 Configure your campaign settings like a professional entrepreneur

For new campaigns I generally like to run the ad for as long as possible during the times of the day and week that the business is open and generally even beyond that to have a data set to work with.

However, if you’ve got a limited budget and you’re working with high CPCs you might want to pull existing internal business data you might have on enquiries and sales and adjust your campaign settings based on that.

Here are a few suggestions:

Match your ad schedule with busy business periods – if your business has been around for some time, chances are, there are certain days and times of the day where you generally tend to get the best level of enquiries or sales. By starting with an ad schedule which replicates this you increase the likelihood of clicks leading to conversions.

From an analysis of our own business as well client data, for B2B businesses, 10am – 12pm / 4pm – 7pm and between 5pm – 10pm for B2C the times that tend to yield the highest conversion rates.

Most AdWords conversions by the time of the day

Make bid adjustments based on current visitor data – presumably, you’ve got a Google Analytics account setup for a while. Compare how your desktop vs mobile vs tablet traffic behaves to see if there might be any takeaways for your ad strategy.

For example, if GA shows that your conversion rates from mobiles is significantly lower than desktop, its likely you’re going to find this to be the case with your search ad traffic as well in which case you might want to reduce your mobile bids on AdWords.

#3 Look at what your competitors are up to

SEMRush competitor keywords and ad copies

There’s quite a few good competitive analysis tools out there such as Spyfu, iSpionage and KeywordSpy for spying on your competitors and my personal favourite is SEMRush. There’s a detailed post on this over on the SEMRush’s blog but here’s a rundown of the most important things to look at:

  • What keywords are they bidding on – this one is quite easy to uncover. Simply enter your competitor’s URL on the search bar and select ‘Advertising research’ and you will get a list of all the keywords your competitors are running ads for
  • How much are they spending and on which keywords – sort the column by costs % and you will see what % of their budget are being spent on those keywords. if your competitor is spending a significant portion of the budget on certain keywords, there’s a good chance its delivering a positive ROI
  • Analyse cost vs traffic % – where possible, you want to prioritise keywords delivering more traffic % than what its costing to run ads on those keywords. In the above example, those would be keywords such as “posters”, “business card holder”, “poster maker” to name a few
  • Look at their ad copies – SEMRush has a neat feature where not only does it show you the text your competitors are using but also which keywords are being used for those ads which will give you helpful suggesting when crafting your own ad copies and deciding on keyword allocation

SEMRush competitor

Note, it helps to analyse competitor who are spending a good sum on advertising as the SEMRush data will tend to be more valuable and there’s a good chance your competitors are carrying out essential maintenance and account management which makes the numbers more relevant.

#4 The little things

As Al Pacino eloquently put it in Any Given Sunday, success in life is a game of inches and so it is with AdWords.

It’s the small changes that will yield all the results over time and when it comes to configuring your campaign settings you want to do this in a way that is likely to yield the highest quality of traffic.

Remarketing

For campaigns with limited budgets in competitive industries, leveraging on the power of remarketing is an absolute must. Not only can remarketing campaigns help you achieve a lower CPA but for if you’re offering something unique or niche which requires multiple touch-points before the prospect is likely to convert, then you can significantly increase your ROI with remarketing.

Bid with sitelinks for expensive keywords

Site extensions

This one is one of my favourites when running AdWords on competitive sectors. You already know that your CPC is going to be quite high for the short-tail, generic keywords. Referring to our example about the printing company, say you wanted to run ads for business cards, leaflets and brochures. As you will see from the above screenshot, the CPC on brochures is significantly higher than the rest. In this case, it might make more sense to use brochures only within sitelink extensions whilst running your ads for leaflets, business cards and so on.

Landing page

Apart from your campaigns setup, no other factor will have more of an impact than your landing page design, so it goes without saying that you should be doing everything possible to make sure your landing pages don’t become a bottleneck to the conversion process. Not enough businesses understand the importance of landing page which is great as you can use this to your advantage by utilising landing pages that will yield healthy conversion rates not just for your PPC campaigns but SEO, too. Or, check out our dedicated website focusing on Google AdWords and paid media at PPC Agency London.

For further resources on this, here are some articles which you will find helpful. If you need help, feel free to get in touch with us.

For help with your digital marketing campaigns, whether that’s Google Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn or Social Media campaigns, get in touch with us today. Or, view all our services here.

Flow20 now also offers Facebook ads courses and Instagram advertising courses.

July 20, 2017

How to Keep Your WordPress Website Safe from Malware and Hacking

WordPress is a fantastic resource for bloggers and small businesses, allowing them to create professional-looking websites with relative ease and lower cost. In fact, this makes it very popular with web designers as well, as it allows for faster turnaround than hard-coded sites and it means that they can keep their costs competitive. But, for all the good that WordPress does, it does attract a fair amount of hackers.

This is not the fault of WordPress. The problem is the fact that many WordPress designers leave the door wide open to hackers. But, fortunately, there are many ways to secure a WordPress site and keep it safe from hackers and malware.

We will discuss these methods in detail in this post. But, before we delve into those tips and tricks, let us first take a look at why hackers go after WordPress sites.

What Do Hackers Want With WordPress Websites?

Many small and medium sized businesses believe that they are safe from hackers not on account of their ankeyboardonymity, but rather because they don’t have much to offer. Hackers tend to target sites that offer them some sort of financial benefit, so is it really in the interest to go after a small site that doesn’t hold any financial or personal information on its customers? The answer, in the eyes of a hacker, is undeniably ‘yes!’

Hackers are opportunists, and they can find opportunity in places that you might not expect. While a given site might not store its customers’ financial information, it does generate traffic (web users visiting the site), and that traffic can be gold to a hacker.

Here are a few possible motivations as to why a hacker would want to take control of a WordPress site:

• Changing Content

Some hackers have a definite agenda, political or otherwise, and they use their hacking skills to publicise this agenda, spread fake news or to achieve some other objective. After taking control of the site, they will typically remove the content and upload their own content which displays their central message. Though, even if they don’t have a particular agenda, some hackers will do this simply for the thrill of it, displaying a ‘calling card’ or simple message telling users who hacked the site. Other times, hackers may insert backlinks to other sites in hopes of increasing rankings.

• Use of the Server

Hackers also like to take control of sites so that they can effectively use the server. They will often send out spam from the website. This can happen without the site going down, so the site owner might not even be aware of it. However, when this happens, sites can be blacklisted, making it very difficult for the site’s owner to get that site off the list and regain the trust of its visitors. To check if your website may have hacked one of the simplest things you can do is to register your website with Google Search Console. To check if your website’s server IP address might have been negatively impacted you can first check and then do a IP reputation check via a site like MXToolbox.

google search console

• Redirections

Sometimes hackers create sites that, through affiliate campaigns, generate profits for them by way of traffic. In order to boost that traffic, they will take hold of other sites and redirect those sites’ traffic to their own sites in order to generate profits. This is a common reason for hacking WordPress sites.

• Installation of Malware

Some hackers use the sites they hack to distribute malware. After taking control of a site, they set it up to download malware onto the computers of visiting users. This malware could be anything from Trojans to ransomware, and could greatly inhibit the site’s users. If search engines discover a site distributing malware, they take action which significantly affects the site’s ability to be discovered in search, which means the hacked site receives a double dose of bad luck between the hack itself and the SEO punishment.

laptopSo, as you can see from the above, having your site hacked is something you certainly want to avoid. And, to be fair, these techniques can affect any website, not just a WordPress site. But, as we mentioned, many WordPress site owners tend to leave the door open to hackers, which is why they are targeted.

But, the good news is that being targeted by hackers is avoidable through certain safety measures. By using some of the following techniques, you can put yourself in the best position possible to defend your WordPress site against hacking attempts.

How to Protect Your WordPress Site from Hacking

1. Backup Regularly

It is important that, before you make any changes, you back up your site. This allows you to keep a version of your site that you know works, just in case something goes wrong while you are tweaking youipadr security settings.

But, in addition to providing you with a safety net to fall back on, backing up can also help your site if it is hacked and brought down. Once you have dealt with the threat, you can revert back to the version of your site that you backed up. While this may apply to less severe instances of hacking, it is still comforting to know that you don’t have to build your site all over again. WPBeginner have put together a comprehensive list of WordPress backup tools that you can checkout.

2. Disallow Multiple Password Attempts

Many WordPress sites are targeted by hackers because they have the ability to access the site via brute force attacks. This method sees hackers generate countless username and password possibilities and then keep entering these into the login portal in the hope twriting on a keyboardhat they ‘guess’ correctly.

Now, if it is you trying to access your website and you get your password wrong, you will only need a few more attempts to enter it correctly (one attempt is most likely). So, you can tell WordPress to distrust anyone trying to enter a password multiple times and, importantly, stop them from doing it.

Some security plugins that allow you to limit the amount of login attempts are Jetpack, WP Cerber, and iThemes. These may have their own nuances, but they all allow you to protect against brute force attacks by limiting login attempts as well as ban hosts that repeatedly enter incorrect login details.

3. Ban Guessed Usernames

You can also catch brute force attacks as they begin by telling your security software to ban login attempts with particular usernames. Since the generic username for WordPress is ‘admin’, it is a good idea to change this anyway. This will already make it more difficult for hackers to guess your login details, as now they need to guess both your username and password. But, once you have done this, you can tell your security plugin to immediately ban anyone who tries to log in using ‘admin’ as the username. You will be surprised at how many brute force attacks you can stop in their tracks using this trick.

4. Change Your Password Regularly and keep it strong

Even if you have told your WordPress site to stop multiple login attempts, you don’t want a hacker to guess your password on the first try. So, stay away from simple passwords at all costs (password123, p@ssword, and the like are far too common). You increase your site’s security greatly by choosing a strong password, and changing it regularly.

You could come up with each new password yourself, but after a while your ideas might start running thin, in which case you might be better off using a password generator. These tools generate random passwords that contain random letters and numbers, and special characters in some cases.

password instructions

5. Update WordPress and WP Plugins

Keeping your WordPress site updated is extremely important for security purposes This is because hackers get to know all of the areas of weakness in current versions of WordPress. But, these areas are often addressed in new versions; a fact that puts those hackers on the back foot. So, to ensure that you don’t make it easy for hackers who are familiar with your version of WordPress to access your site, make sure that you are always on the latest version.

The same goes for plugins. Some WP plugins have vulnerabilities that allow hackers to gain access to the servers, which gives them control over the site. So, to ensure that you don’t make it easy for hackers to gain access through your plugins, stay current with your plugin updates.

6. Conceal the Version of WordPress that You Are Using

If hackers know the particular weaknesses of a version, and can exploit those weaknesses to gain access to a site, you don’t want them to know the version you are working with, even if it is the latest version. So, in addition to keeping your WordPress site up to date at all times, it is a good idea to hide the information on the version that you are using.

A lot of security plugins offer this as part of their features, which is probably the easiest way to accomplish this task. However, if you are using a security plugin that doesn’t help you hide your version number, you can do it yourself with a bit of code. For this, you need to find the functions.php file in your theme and tell it to stop executing the wp_generator function.

This process is explained simply in this guide to hiding your WordPress version number.

7. Avoid Getting Plugins from Third-Party Sites

Since we are talking about WordPress plugin vulnerability, it is worth mentioning that it is not always the fault of the plugin itself. Many plugins are created with excellent security features, but they can end up being offered by third-party sites. The problem with this is the fact that they are not coming directly from the creator, and thus have the potential to be compromised. A perfectly sound plugin can be taken and laced with malware, then offered as a free download on another site, which would then compromise the WordPress site of anyone who installs it.

So, to avoid this situation, be sure to get plugins from WordPress itself and avoid all other channels, especially torrents.

8. Create a Secondary Login Authenticationauthentication

It is possible to create a second layer of password protection on your WordPress account with a 2-Factor Authentication plugin (also called 2FA). With this method, your first password takes you through to another authentication screen, where you input more security details in order to verify your status as site admin.

It is also possible to have the second layer of security send a one-time pin code to your email address or mobile device, which you then input to gain access to the site. This plugin can be found here.

9. Change the URL You Use to Log In

The login page for your WordPress site is reachable by adding wp-login.php or wp-admin to the end of the site’s URL. But, while this makes it convenient for you to access the login page, it also makes it easy for hackers to access that page. However, it is possible to obscure this page by changing the login URL.

For this, you need a custom login URL plugin, which is easy enough to find on the WP plugins page. With this, you can change the permalinks and redirects to add a custom login URL to your WordPress site.

10. Password Protect the Admin Section

When it comes to password protection, it is also worth noting that you don’t have to just rely on the main login to keep hackers out. It is possible to password protect parts of your site, like your admin section. Beinsecurityg the central hub of your site, it is important to keep this section as secure as possible, so you might want to add secondary password here.

You can add an admin password via your cPanel using the ‘Directory Privacy’ icon, or by installing the AskApache Password Protect plugin.

11. Stop the Admin Section from Being Indexed

Search engines use what they call ‘spiders’ to search websites on the internet and index them. This index helps them find relevant results quicker when a user inputs a search query. But, the problem with this is that they index all of the content on a site, which includes the sensitive information in your admin section. And, of course, if it’s indexed, it is easier for hackers to find and exploit.

But, you can stop this from happening with a little code. The x-robots-tag HTTP header is a directive that tells Google’s spiders not to index a page. By applying it to the code of your admin section, you can stop that page being indexed. This does involve some technical-know how, so be sure that you feel comfortable doing it yourself before attempting this technique. If not, consult the professionals.

12. Hide Your Configuration File

Your wp-config.php file is another important one. This holds vital information about your WordPress installation, making it very precious to you and very valuable to hackers. But, being in your root directory, it is quite easy for hackers to find. So, the best way of protecting it is to deny access to anyone who looks for it.

This also means getting involved with the back end of WordPress. But, if you feel comfortable working in this area, here is some code to help you protect your wp-config.php file.

13. Get an SSL Certificate

A Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate provides security on data transfer via encryption, which means hackers can’t access your site’s data while it is travelling across the internet. Plus, as an added bonus, sites that feature SSL certificates tend to rank higher in search engine results than those without, so you get extra traffic as well as added security.

You can buy SSL certificates from many hosting companies. And, installing an SSL certificate is not very difficult, so this is definitely an avenue you should explore in order to secure your site.

14. Enforce Security Among Other Users

You have control over the password you use to access your WordPress account, but, if there are other people with access to your site, you don’t have control over the passwords they use. No matter how secure you make your own password and how often you change it, they could make it easy for a hacker to gain access by keyschoosing weak passwords.

The best way of ensuring that you have strong passwords across all users with admin access is through a plugin called Force Strong Passwords. As the name suggests, this plugin does not allow users to set weak passwords for entry to the site. If the plugin detects an admin trying to change their password, it will trigger and ensure that the user can only select a strong password based on predefined parameters.

15. Prevent Changes to Your Site

As we mentioned, some hacWP CMSkers want to gain access to sites in order to change those sites’ content. But, if you have a way of stopping them from editing your files, plugins, and themes, this becomes much more difficult. And, fortunately, there is a way to do this that is quite simple.

Even if you aren’t comfortable with the back end, this solution shouldn’t create too much anxiety. It is simply a case of going into your wp-config file and adding two lines of code right at the end of the file. You can find the code to disable WordPress file editing here.

16. Monitor Changes to Your Site

Even though can disable the ability of hackers to edit your files in WordPress, you still might want to keep an eye on any changes that occur on your site. Fortunately, this is easy to do through plugins, and you will be spoiled for choice in this regard. Some choices in this area are:

• Activity Log

With the Activity Log plugin, you get exactly what the name suggests – a user-friendly means of monitoring any activity on your site. It also offers email notifications for activity, which you can customise to only trigger at certain events, thereby ensuring that you don’t clog your email inbox with messages.

• WP Security Audit Log

The WP Security Audit Log plugin monitors changes in real time, ensuring that you can jump on any suspicious activity as it arises. It also offers monitoring for any changes that might occur on live product pages, which makes this plugin ideal for ecommerce sites.

• Stream

Stream keeps tabs on all activity on a site and then allows you to filter your search for specific types of activity. It also integrates with other popular plugins and allows for MultiSite use, making it a dream plugin for web design agencies.

17. Run Security Scans Inside WordPress security shield

You have an anti-virus program for your computer (or, if you don’t, you really should), so why not install security software for WordPress as well? It is possible to get plugins that are specifically designed to prevent against hacking and other malicious activity.

Of these, Acunetix WP Security is a fantastic one. This plugin checks your entire WordPress site for security risks and is able to help tighten your security through better passwords, version hiding, database and admin security, file permissions, and the removal of meta tags from core code. Another good one to try out is Wordfence.

18. Protect Against SQL Injection and XSS Attacks

SQL injections are attacks in which malicious code is input into an application’s code, which is then passed to the back end of a site. XSS attacks, or cross-site scripting attacks, are also injection attacks, but with these the malicious code is sent to a different user via an application.

Some security plugins will help prevent these types of attacks, but otherwise it has to be done manually, and the process is best left to advanced back end users. If you feel comfortable doing this yourself, you’ll find decent step-by-step tutorials on preventing SQL injection and guarding against XSS attacks online. But, if you’re not experienced in working on the back end, it is advisable to enlist the services of a professional developer.

If you want to check for vulnerabilities when it comes to SQL injection and XSS attacks, you can download pen testing software. This is software that checks for weaknesses in the same way that a hacker might. Netsparker is great for this purpose. But, when running tests, be prepared for the software to offer a fair amount of advisories. If this happens, don’t panic. That’s what testing is for! Just isolate the areas that need immediate attention and then work through the rest as you go.

With these tips and tricks your WordPress site will be just as secure as a hard-coded site (if not more so), and you can enjoy all of the benefits that come with using WordPress without having to worry about security vulnerabilities.

Conclusion

Using WordPress for your next website or blog is a great idea as not only is it more cost-effective to build on compared to other Content Management Systems such as Joomla or Magento plus the myriad of plugins available also means there’s very little you cant do with it.

However, its popularity has also led to it being a regular target for hackers worldwide so you do have to spend some time keeping it up-to-date and secure.

For help with your digital marketing, whether that’s Google Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn or Social Media campaigns, get in touch with us today. Or, view all our services here.

Flow20 now also offers Facebook training courses and Instagram ads course.

May 26, 2017

Is a copywriter a wordsmith or a salesman?

First off, let’s clarify what a copywriter actually is. It’s an individual who writes promotional material. Could be a website, brochure, flyer or press advert – though it’s not limited to just these types of collateral. Or put another way, it’s someone who writes words that sell a product, service or idea.

As much as a slick graphic or image can look enticing, it’s ultimately the words that convinces the reader to make the purchase, or equally, walk away from it. Copywriting can be powerful, very powerful. Regardless of what you might think, it’s a pretty sure bet that you have been convinced by some clever copy at some point.

As a copywriter myself, I’m very often called a ‘Wordsmith’. I once worked for a digital marketing agency where one of the bosses consistently referred to me in this way. Used to drive me nuts. But there are plenty of copywriters who are more than happy to adopt this label. And over the years I’ve realised why that actually is – because as far as I’m concerned, copywriting is about salesmanship.

Here’s why those copywriters like the Wordsmith tag. Ready? Because they’ve never experienced actually selling anything in their lives. They normally would have studied journalism or English Literature – often earning a BA(Hons). They were told that they had a ‘gift for writing stories’. They often didn’t begin their first job until their early twenties – right from leaving university. The thought of selling something actually fills them with dread.

Then, they start as an intern in a marketing or ad agency and begin their career as a copywriter.
In other words, they simply have no tangible experience. In fact, you try Gsalesmanoogling the words ‘salesman’ and ‘copywriter’ together. You’ll find very few copywriters blogging about themselves in this way. On the other hand, I have a very different background. Copywriting is selling, pure and simple. I was selling advertising space at 16 years of age – cold calling. And for twenty years there-after, sold everything from film and jewellery to digital marketing services and handbags.

My advice, when seeking a copywriter for your project, look at a copywriter’s portfolio, then see whose the most persuasive and written from the most unique angle. Nine times out of ten it’ll be the salesman that floats your boat.

So, in short, to answer the question: a copywriter can be both; just be aware that it’s the salesman who’ll invariably knows how to close a deal.

About the author:
Jim Morrissey is a website & marketing copywriter and business development consultant based in Twickenham, London. When he’s not making his clients money, Jim is either playing the guitar or writing a film script.

For help with your digital marketing, whether that’s Google Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn, SEO or Social Media campaigns, get in touch with us today.  We offer training for Google Ads, Facebook ad training course and Instagram ads training course, too. Or, view all our services here.

May 4, 2017

How to Tweak Your Remarketing Campaign to Increase ROI – Part 2

If you are looking to tweak your remarketing campaign to incorporate better practices, you might need a more focussed approach. In Part 1 of this look at remarketing to increase ROI, we looked at reshaping the campaign from its foundations.

Now we intend to look a little deeper and identify a few of the practices that contribute to a sustainable remarketing campaign.

More Tips on Creating a Successful Remarketing Campaign

1. Be Specific with Your Bids

Your bids determine which users will see your remarketing ads, so it is important to tell Google exactly who you want to see the most ads. Remarketing is, after all, about reconnecting with the users who have clicked off your site. But, you need to prioritise the users which are more likely to become customers.

Users who bounced off your home page, for example, aren’t quite as likely to become customers as the ones who abandoned purchases. You want to prioritise users who were already in the sales funnel and then work backwards from there, especially if your budget is tight.

2. Use Google’s Frequency Cap

Showing the same ad to the same user is dangerous for a few reasons. Firstly, you run the risk of desensitising the user to your ad. If a user sees the same ad enough times, he or she will stop noticing it after a while.

Secondly, showing a user the same ad too frequently might irritate that user to the point of not wanting anything to do with your company.

Lastly, showing the same ad to the same users can have the effect of decreasing your impressions, which isn’t good.

A good way to avoid these scenarios is to use Google’s frequency cap. This prevents the same users from seeing the same ad too frequently and makes sure that your ad is more effective and better seen.

working desk

3. Schedule Your Ads

Planning a first-class ad strategy is only useful if your ads are going to be seen. And, if they’re going up when your target audience isn’t online, your strategy isn’t going to be as effective as it could be. This is where ad scheduling comes in very handy.

Scheduling your ads means that you can choose when your ads go up. So, if you know your target audience’s online habits, you can ensure that your ads always go up when they’ll be most effective.

4. Change Your Ad Intermittently

If you are running a special offer or discount, you want to show your ad at a higher frequency so as to have the biggest effect over the short period of your promotion. But, as we mentioned with ad frequency, you can start to annoy users through ad overuse.

However, you want your promotion to boost sales over this period. So, if you see your click-through rates dropping off, you might consider changing your ad’s content. This way, users will still be seeing the ad as much, but it will be fresh and thus better-received.

5. Retarget to the Converted

Users who have bought from you in the past are likely to become repeat customers. But, again, you don’t want to annoy them into distancing themselves from your brand. So, instead of aggressively remarketing to these users, you might place them on a less frequent list with a longer duration. This way you’ll subtly keep reminding them of their experience with your business and hopefully generate future sales.

Remarketing Means a Second Chance to Convertarrow

No business wants to see its bounce rate increase. But, with remarketing, bounce rate means an opportunity to reconnect with users who didn’t quite get your approach the first time around.

By carefully planning your strategy, it is possible to find other ways to impress users and show them exactly why they should give your business a second chance.

 

Conclusion

Remarketing campaigns can help increase your paid search spend ROI but only if you optimise them regularly. Make sure you don’t forget about them when setting up your Pay Per Click (PPC) digital marketing campaigns.

For help with your digital marketing, whether that’s Search Engine Optimisation, Google Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn or Social Media campaigns, get in touch with us today. Or, view all our services here.

Flow20 now also offers training for Facebook ads  and Instagram ads courses.

March 31, 2017

How to Tweak Your Remarketing Campaign to Increase ROI

Remarketing is a brilliantly effective way to reconnect with users who have shown interest in your site or app in the past and turn them into customers.  It essentially tracks people who have visited your site through cookies, and shows them your ads on other sites, across multiple devices.

This article is all about tweaking an existing PPC remarketing campaign to increase your ROI (for a detailed guide of setting one up, check out Search Engine Journal’s article here). So, lets get started:

1.    Create Ads of Various Sizes

When you’re targeting users for your remarketing ad strategy, you are after users based on their search history, not their device type.  This means you don’t have the luxury of creating an ad specifically for mobile users, for example.  The users you target maAd formatsy be on a variety of devices and may transfer between devices freely.  Because of this, it is advisable to create ads of multiple sizes.

By doing this, you ensure that your ads work with every site that features Google Ads.  You won’t be held up by a lack of compatibility and you can be sure that your ads will follow targeted users to each site that they visit in the way that you intend them to do.

Here are some common ad format sizes and the number of estimate impressions per each (source: Wordstream)

2.    Make Your Remarketing Strategy Cohesive on All Fronts

The users you select to target and the pages to which you direct them certainly matter to your campaign strategy.  But, there are other elements that should be equally important if you want your campaign to make sense to its targets.

This should start with the design of your ads.  Like much of your other marketing content, your ads will be more effective if they have a similar look and feel to your website.  You want your targeted users to instantly connect your ad with your website, prompting them to want to revisit it.

Also be sure that it appeals to your target audience, both visually and with its written content.  And, speaking of written content, be sure to add a clear call-to-action.

3.    Choose Your Landing Pages Wisely

You need to inform Google as to which of your site’s pages you would like your ads to send users.  But, be sure to think carefully about this.  Yes, your home page is important, but is it responsible for the most conversions?

Prioritise the pages that produce the most conversions, which are often specific pages offering important information, like product pages. Don’t forget, not only will your landing pages determine the effectiveness of your campaigns to a very large degree, page engagement metrics such as Bounce Rate, time on site and most important, conversions is also a ranking factor when it comes to SEO.

4.    Be Sure to Test

Sometimes strategies seem flawless in the think-tank but then don’t AB testingdeliver in the real world.  This is expected, and it’s why we A/B test.  Don’t neglect A/B testing with your remarketing campaign as sometimes the smallest changes can have a big effect.

Test your options with regards to images, calls-to-action, copy, designing landing pages, and budget.  And keep an eye on your impressions, click-through rates, and conversions.

Build a Solid Springboard for Your Remarketing Campaign

The above tips are aimed at the inception or reshaping of a remarketing campaign.  But, it is very important to cover the basics, onto which you can add more advanced techniques.

Join us for Part 2 of this look at remarketing in which we’ll discuss how to build on these pointers for a successful and sustainable campaign.

For help with your digital marketing campaigns, whether that’s Google Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn or Social Media, get in touch with us today. Or, view all our services here.

Flow20 now also offers training for Facebook ads  and Instagram ads courses.

March 15, 2017

Best Practices for Optimising for Cross-Device Conversions

Think back to the last time you made an online purchase. Chances are, you started the research process on one device and ended up making the purchase from another. A large number of users begin a transaction on one device and complete it on another.  This, very simply, is cross-device conversion.

Because users feel comfortable moving between devices it is important for businesses to be able to measure and, more importantly, act on this behaviour.  Designing apps and sites that facilitate cross-device conversions is the first step, but how do you optimise for such conversions?

Here are a few tips:

Tablet and mobile on sofa

How to Optimise for Cross-Device Conversions

1.     Monitor Your Cross-Device Conversions

Conversion tracking allows you to manage and monitor your PPC campaign’s conversion and, as of 2015, this is available for cross-device conversions.  Enabling this on your account will let you see important data on the conversions of multi-device users.

It is also important to enable the same conversion tracking settings across your platforms (desktop sites, mobile sites, and apps).  Conversion tracking gives you information on what customers do after they click on your ads, so uniform tracking will give you will have better understanding of which users are transferring to different devices after said clicks.

Lastly, it will benefit you to take advantage of Google’s expanded conversion window.  A conversion window is the amount of time between a customer clicking an ad and Google reporting a conversion to you.  By lengthening this window, you give customers more time to transact via multiple devices.  And, since multi-device users tend to take longer to convert, you allow yourself a better understanding of the data surrounding these conversions.

2.    Single Out the Insights You NeedConversions graph

March saw the beginning of a rollout in which Google will include cross-device conversions in the ‘Conversions’ column.  But, while this will contribute to the overall conversions on Insights, you will still be able to view data on cross-device conversions separately.  Viewing these insights separately will allow you to specifically target cross-device conversions using automated bidding.

It is also possible to view the conversion rate on individual devices.  This makes it possible to define which approaches are preferred for each device.

3.    Adjust Your Strategy to Maximise Cross-Device Conversions

It is worth noting that users are more likely to complete transactions if the path to completion is clear and easy.  So, you want to make cross-device conversions just as easy as same-device purchases in order to increase your revenue.

With this in mind, use the information in your ‘Conversions’ column to rethink your Google AdWords bids.  This way your strategy will be aimed at boosting cross-device conversions and you will be tailoring the journey to the multi-device user.

Tracking cross device conversions on Facebook

Facebook conversions graphic

Conclusion – Cross-Device Conversions Help You Land More Customers

With so many devices on the market nowadays, users are branching out when it comes to online purchasing.  Device mobility allows a fluidity that really suits many users’ lifestyles, so companies that adapt to and facilitate this have a better chance of winning those users’ business.

With cross-device conversions becoming increasingly popular, now is the time to optimise your ad campaigns to suit them.

For help with your digital marketing campaigns, whether that’s Google Ads, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Facebook, LinkedIn, or Social Media, or if you are looking for a professional landing page design agency, get in touch with us today. Or, view all our services here.

Flow20 now also offers training for Facebook ads  and training for Instagram ads.

Https key January 18, 2017

Why It’s Now More Important than Ever to Use a HTTPS Protocol and How to Introduce It to Your Website

Privacy is harder and harder to come by, both in the digital world and the real one.  However, while the decline of ‘real world’ privacy means that your favourite park bench might always be occupied, the lack of privacy in the digital world is potentially dangerous.

The digital age has ushered in a new era of information sharing that has meant a change in online users’ perceptions of privacy.  While cinematic thrillers in the late 1990s depicted convoluted methods of using personal technology to track individuals’ locations, this feat can be accomplished today through none other than the location settings on our smartphones.  But, even more valuable than individuals’ whereabouts are their personal details – such as email addresses, physical addresses, and banking details – which they knowingly enter into various websites frequently.

The internet has certainly eased the pressures of adulthood, with almost every necessary transaction able to be made online.  While the payment of bills, resolution of account inconsistencies, and the week’s grocery shopping may have been an entire day’s labour before the prominence of the internet, it is all accomplishable today in a mere amount of minutes.  But, the amount of personal information needing to be transferred digitally in order to accomplish these tasks has made the threat of hackers far more real.

Businesses which leave their customers’ personal details open to attack may find such practice unfavourable on a number of levels should such an attack occur.  Aside from losing current customers, the business may garner a reputation based on a lack of system integrity, which could result in a dramatic loss of future business.  However, there are ways to strengthen security surrounding users’ personal information and enjoy various other added benefits.  One particular method is through the use of HTTPS.

What is HTTPS?

An acronym for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, HTTPS is a protocol designed specifically for the protection of users’ personal information.  With ‘secure’ being the operative word, HTTPS ensures user confidentiality between his or her computer and the website being visited.

If, for example, a user wants to make a product purchase or create an account on a given website, HTTPS is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the user’s information as it travels from the user’s computer to the website’s server – a transition which would, without the aid of HTTPS, leave the information vulnerable to hackers.

This is, of course, highly important in the modern age, with so much important and sensitive information being so easily available online.  Businesses which ensure a safer user experience will naturally be better regarded by customers.  It is thus important for all businesses wanting to increase their customer service, and their revenue, to make the move to HTTPS.

Security

 

How Does HTTPS Work?

HTTPS secures user data using a protocol known as Transport Layer Security, or TLS.  This protocol is often referred to as SSL as a result of its precursor, Secure Sockets Layer.  Yet, regardless of the name given to the protocol, both TLS and SSL serve the same purpose; the maintenance of confidentiality of user information.

TLS is a cryptographic protocol whose broad purpose is network communications safety.  Aside from online payments, TLS can be used to secure communications pertinent to web browsing, email, instant messaging, and Voice over Internet Protocol.  In essence, TLS can secure any and all communications transpiring between users and servers.

In order to effectively secure said communications, the TLS protocol makes use of various methods with a similar end result.  Depending on the circumstances, digital communication between a user and a server will feature one or more of the following TLS security methods:

1. Encryption:  Hackers known as ‘eavesdroppers’ often intercept personal information between the user’s computer and the server.  The TLS protocol creates communication security by encrypting the information during this transfer, rendering the information useless to eavesdroppers.  This also eliminates the ability of hackers to track the movement of the user between pages, and trace the user’s inputs.
2. Detection:  The TLS protocol performs an integrity check on each article of communication using a message authentication code.  Should the user’s information be corrupted or modified in any way during the exchange, the TLS protocol will detect the event.
3.  Authentication:  Hackers commonly create sites that mimic official websites in an effort to obtain personal information.  The TLS authentication method is used to prove that the user is communicating with the correct website.  This eliminates the ability of hackers to direct users to their own sites (known as man-in-the-middle attacks), and inspires user trust.

In addition to the above methods, it is possible to configure the TLS protocol to obtain supplementary security.  A good example of this additional security is ‘forward secrecy’, which ensures that encryption keys discovered after the initial communication cannot be used to decrypt that communication in the future.

What Are the Benefits of HTTPS?

Google securitySince HTTPS exists to promote user security, this is obviously one of its biggest benefits.  For businesses wanting to increase their client base through a reputation of great customer service, showing sensitivity to the user’s online experience is an excellent way to go about this.  By ensuring a safe environment in which to transfer valuable information, businesses can certainly elevate themselves in the eyes of their customers, as well as prospective customers.

When it comes to online dealings, trust is a major factor with regards to how customers approach businesses.  The reassuring lock icon located next to the web address in users’ browsers is a fantastic way to establish trust.  But, aside from bringing in new business, HTTPS is invaluable in maintaining a business’s clients.  The financial and logistical headache that comes with a site being hacked, or a client’s personal information being stolen, might just prove too substantial for many businesses to survive.

User safety is thus the core benefit of HTTPS.  But, there are various perks that come with switching to this protocol, and some of these exist in the marketing sphere.  While user trust might be immeasurable, despite it being a logical business booster, search engine rankings are absolutely measurable and stand to benefit from a website’s adoption of HTTPS.

A little over a year ago, Google brought a valuable piece of information to the fore regarding sites featuring HTTPS.  At a US Expo for digital marketers, Gary Illyes from Google shared the search giant’s data on HTTPS sites, which indicated that it has a small, but significant, part to play in search rankings.  In his talk, Gary identified 10 percent of the crawled sites on Google’s index as being HTTPS sites.  However, while this number may seem fairly small, many of these sites exist at the top of Google’s search rankings.

Of the 10 percent of indexed HTTPS sites on Google, 30 percent exist on the first page of results.  In other words, 30 percent of the first page of results for a given Google search is made up of HTTPS sites.  While this may have been disguised as an interesting anomaly at the time, the truth is that Gary Illyes himself is responsible for Google’s algorithm incorporating HTTPS as a ranking signal.

During his talk, Gary claimed responsibility for making HTTPS a ranking signal on Google.  After coming up with the idea, he brought Google’s Matt Cutts into the loop, whose enthusiasm for the prospect accelerated the design process and resulted in HTTPS signals being coded into Google’s algorithm a mere five months after the idea was conceptualised.

The result is that HTTPS sites are considered by Google while its algorithm creates rankings.  In fact, as of December 2015, Google’s bots will give priority to HTTPS pages.  More specifically, when referencing sites, Google will favour a particular site’s HTTPS pages over its HTTP pages.  If it finds a HTTP page that it deems relevant for a particular search, it will always try to find a HTTPS version of that same page.  If it finds such a version, it will display that page instead of the HTTP page found in the original search.

Though small in terms of its significance when compared to Panda, for example, HTTPS signals do Web securityhave the potential to impact a page’s search rankings.  And, with the level of competition for first page results, a small edge is exactly what businesses need.

So, in order to improve user safety and benefit from the gesture in search rankings, it is highly recommended that businesses make the move from HTTP to HTTPS.  While this may sound like a grand undertaking, it is entirely manageable.

How to Introduce HTTPS to Your Website

If a business wants to improve client safety through HTTPS it needn’t create a new site from scratch.  It is possible to add the HTTPS protocol to an existing site, and this does not require a large amount of coding.  Furthermore, adding HTTPS to each page is not necessary, as this might slow down the site’s loading times in general.  Any business wanting to protect its users’ information needs only to isolate the pages of its website that require protection, such as the login and checkout pages.

Making the necessary pages secure simply requires the following steps:

1. Obtain a Dedicated IP Address
In order to use HTTPS, websites need to purchase SSL certificates.  And, in order to do this, many are required (or at least advised) to have dedicated IP addresses.  This may seem fairly straightforward, but many web hosting services have cheaper packages which share IPs between multiple sites.  Dedicated IP addresses ensure that all of the IP address’s inbound traffic is intended for a single website, which makes security more manageable.

2. Purchase an SSL Certificate
An SSL certificate is, in essence, a type of identification document for a given website which is used to prove its authenticity.  However, this document isn’t stored in the office’s safe, it is stored on the website.

An SSL certificate is merely a paragraph of characters (alphabetical and numerical) that is known only to the website which it represents.  When users visit the site via HTTPS the certificate is checked, and provides verification if it is found to be authentic.  It is thus responsible for the encryption that provides security for the user.

SSL certificates can be purchased from the Certificate Authorities (CAs), and retained for an annual fee.  However, this ensures that the given site is recognised by the CAs, and it provides the site with a security seal which encourages user trust.

3. Activation
This is a technical step of the process, so it might be best left to industry experts.  Hosting companies are also known to complete this step for certain sites, depending on their level of service.  Businesses opting to do this alone will have to generate a CSR (Certificate and Signing Request) which can be done through the hosting control panel.  This will be sent to the issuer of the SSL certificate in order to verify the website’s identity.

4. Installation
Once the certificate has been activated, it needs to be installed into the back-end of the website.  This can again be done through the hosting control panel, which will contain an option to install an SSL certificate.  This is also done by various hosting companies, so it is worth checking if this is an offered service before following this step.

5. Update Site Pages
The necessary pages should now be accessed by typing https:// before the URL (https://examplesite.com), but they won’t yet be accessed by users looking for those pages.  It is thus necessary to point users at those pages in order to protect them.  This can be done by updating the links between pages, such as the link to the Checkout page on the Home page.  In order to ensure that inbound traffic lands on the correct page, it is advisable to use a redirect command.

With the above steps it is possible for businesses to make the move to HTTPS with fairly little disruption, and this is certainly advisable.  Aside from ensuring safe customer interactions, the use of HTTPS can positively affect search rankings.  With better customer care and the possibility of increased traffic, making the move to HTTPS cannot be seen as anything other than great business.

Conclusion
Https isn’t optional anymore, make sure your website has the latest SSL certificate to keep it secure and compliant with Google and other search engines.

For help with your digital marketing campaigns, whether that’s Google Ads, SEO, Facebook, LinkedIn or Social Media, get in touch with us today. Or, view all our services here.

August 17, 2016

Online Marketing – What you need to know (Aug 16)

Limited use of Google’s keyword planner for low and non spending accounts

The keyword planner is a free tool that has long been a staple in every online marketer’s toolkit whether that’s for SEO or PPC. However, you may soon have only limited access unless you’re using Google’s AdWords platform.Google keyword planner

Whilst this shouldn’t come to most as a great surprise as when all is said and done, Google is an advertising company first and the accuracy of data has always been questionable, this is the primary go-to tool for most marketers and if you’ve only been using it for SEO purposes it may soon be time to find alternatives.

Search Engine Land has more info on this update and if you’re looking for a list of free alternatives to the Keyword planner, check out SEJ.

Barack Obama on Reddit

Did you know that Barack reddit screenshotObama has a AMA (Ask Me Anything) account on Reddit? No joke. And, it’s not news per se as he’s had the session going there for 3 years now.

What is new however, is that last week he announced he’d also be reading his Facebook messages personally, a total of 10 (including emails and letters). More on CNBC.

Google My Business Insights

Google My Business is an important marketing channel for any small business, Views on Googlemore so if you have a brick and mortar store.

Last week, Google has given their analytics platform for My Business an upgrade giving page managers much more useful information and insights into their page performance as well as other key elements such as:

  • How many people are seeing your listingSearches on Google
  • Whether they’re coming from Google search or Maps – this is good as you can use this information to take marketing decisions especially if you’re a restaurant or a local establishment
  • Whether they looked for you directly or found you whilst browsing

Learn more at Google’s official announcement page .

Clinton vs Trump – who is winning in online marketing?

In terms of pure nClinton vs Trumpumbers, Trump leads the way in terms fo number of twitter and Instagram followers and Facebook fans and Clinton is ahead on YouTube and LinkedIn. Engagement metrics however paint a different story.

Head over to Entrepreneur website for the full infographic or click here for commentary on Forbes.

For help with your digital marketing campaigns, whether that’s Google Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn or Social Media, get in touch with us today. Or, view all our services here.

February 22, 2016

Google ads removed from the right and how it will affect advertisers

Notice that ads on the right from Google search results page have vanished since the last weekend?

If you keep up with the world of online marketing you may be aware already that Google has been carrying out tests for the last 5 years or so on displaying results for your queries without the ads on the right.

Over the weekend, those tests have now been formalized and Google has officially removed the ads from the right in an effort to bring the desktop user experience closer to mobile. The change began rolling out over the weekend and is expected to finish by today.

Google ads removed from right

The above screenshot shows you what’s visible above-the-fold on a 1920 x 1280 desktop resolution! This is much more than the resolution you’ll find on most displays and note how 80% of the visible area is taken up by ads.

An overview of these changes:

  • Ads from the right removed for most queries
  • Another ad on top will show up which makes the total number of ads above organic results to 4. However, this is apparently only going to be the case for highly commercial queries such as “London Hotels” “car insurance” and so on
  • Product Listing ad boxes will show up on the right

How this change will affect advertisers

Whilst this is good news for users, businesses, Google’s core target market can expect their AdWords budget to take a serious hit as the bid to be part of page 1 has just become all the more competitive, with much less room available. Lets take a closer look:

  • Removing the ads from the right means there’s now much less real estate available for ads which should drive up the £ Cost Per Clicks for the available slots
  • The bar for Quality Score, landing pages relevance and other KPIs has been raised and advertisers will need to be even more creative if their ads are to see the light of the top of page 1
  • If you’re a product seller, expect to feel the impact even more. Already, for competitive product searches, you’re likely to find the biggest retailers like Argos, John Lewis and the like on the Product Listing ad. In this case, as a small retailer your only choice was text ads.
  • If you’re a service seller without any organic page 1 rankings, your CPCs could increase anywhere from 20 – 60%!

What can advertisers do about the change?

  • If you’re an online marketer chances are you know about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and if you’re not carrying it out already, now it’s more important than ever to get started. With these changes, the Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) of leads from SEO vs PPC should become even more cost-effective and sustainable.
  • If you’re offering multiple services, some more competitive than others, you may wish to explore pushing the latter or niche services. The ad competition should be lower and you may still be able to get similar CPCs as before
  • At the risk of sounding bias, a professionally managed PPC campaign becomes even more important to ensure your CPCs don’t spiral out of control

How long before Google rebrands itself from a search engine to an ad engine?!

Here’s some other links on the web on related news:

For help with your digital marketing campaigns, whether that’s Google Ads, Facebook, Search Engine OptimisationLinkedIn or Social Media, get in touch with us today. Or, view all our services here.